Wednesday, June 3, 2009

TV Week: Six Ways to Save Soaps

Sergio Ibarra has published a new article, "Struggling Soaps Seek New Niche," for TelevisionWeek.

TelevisionWeek spoke to some of the experts in the field (Ed Martin, Brian Frons, Jonathan Reiner, Tim Brooks) and zeroed in on the top ways networks and studios have been exploring to keep the genre alive, and what to look for before another long-standing title is cut.

1. Explore online video as a delivery method and marketing tool.

2. Increase audience reach through cable network distribution.

3. Keep story quality as priority No. 1.

4. Find new ways to expand the creative talent pool.

5. Cut costs of production without sacrificing quality.

6. Leave soap operas alone entirely.

Story quality has always been an ignored factor in this type of article so it is nice to see that highlighted here (thanks, Mr. Reiner). But story quality alone will not save the daytime soaps at this point, or any show. My favorite primetime soap, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, is brilliantly produced, airs on DirecTV as well as NBC, has lowered production costs, is available online (basically, it meets all the above criteria) and yet the show is lucky to draw four millions viewers. But the shared production costs, which is helping it stay in the air, may be something the daytime soaps can learn from in the future.

I would love to think that any consistently well-written and produced daytime soap would attract an audience but that's not necessarily a given. These shows have to become relevant and current and attract younger viewers, while maintaining enough balance not to lose their core audience.

Probably the biggest factor not mentioned is the fact that the folks in charge of most of these soaps and daytime programming do not have the appropriate vision for the shows they are making decisions about. What is ATWT about? What is AMC about? I have a feeling both new and old fans have a very different opinion than TPTB.

I do agree, and have been saying so for two years now on this blog, that there are many other ways to monetize the soaps that are not being used. The article mentioned the "Nuke" channel on YouTube which has nearly 15,000 subscribers. Why is CBS/PGP not putting their own "Nuke" channel on YouTube with commercials and eliminating the fan channels? This seems like a no-brainer. It works for SNL which forces people to go to or to watch or embed clips instead of YouTube. The same could be done with "Otalia". Fans are doing this out of love for the characters, which is helping to bring new viewers to these shows, but no one is making any money from any of it. What a waste.

- Soap Trading Cards & Merchandise
- Alternative Approaches to Keep GL On The Air


  1. It certainly does seem like Guiding Light Telenext have put themselves in the position of leading the way to the next Golden Age of soaps. Let's hope some cable venue sees the potential of this partnership.

  2. Thanks for highlighting this and adding your two cents. I think you have hit the nail on the head. New Media and diversity along with focusing on good storytelling with a strong vision.

    Work with the unions to allow paid for downloads of either full shows and couplings so that people can buy the content for use.

    Drop in some well placed and logical product placements and the genre is bought and paid for!

    Now if the daytime suits would just wake up and listen

  3. Ooh I forget to add ... Multiple alternative delivery methods are critical. I've got a old fashioned TV machine. But I watch Guiding Light dvr'd, on YouTube via iPhone and laptop, via TVU, and vicariously through friends' slingbox viewing. And the was just yesterday!

  4. I totally agree that it is a no brainer re. the internet. I know that TeleNext have their own Youtube page, but it's only up to either late 2007 or early 2008. I personally do most of my viewing of programmes online and the tv is just sat in the corner covering dust these days! I read the article in full and I had to respectfully disagree about their comments re. GL's production model and writing. Yes, GL has had to adapt to the new production model, and the writing just gets better and better, especially with the Otalia storyline. I would love to watch the full programme in it's entirety on the web.

    And if they want to increase their revenue...they should just get Crystal or Jessica to do the ads..because I'd buy anything they were selling :-)) (I'm sure the demand for peanut butter went up considerably a few weeks back!).